The Friend Crisis.

The older I get, the less I feel like people want to be vulnerable and honest and go deep with me. The same is true with roles reversed, I find myself sometimes being okay with the same old shallow conversations. I feel a tug at my heart each time it happens. Aching for more.

I feel this tendency to turn to my phone for what I hope will feel like connection or better yet, to numb out from what’s happening around me. I fill the empty spaces and places with videos and constant scrolling in order to not have to be alone with my thoughts.

I’ve been reading a book by Jennie Allen called “Find Your People” and she talks about how we years ago we used to have to depend on one another to meet our needs but instead we hop on Amazon instead of knocking on a neighbors door to borrow some sugar or we trade nights out with friends for hours on TikTok or Facebook.

I lived in a house a few years ago and when I moved in I remembered feeling so excited to have neighbors in my new city! I couldn’t wait to get to know them and hopefully befriend some “real adults” being so far away from home. But instead, my neighbors seemed pretty disinterested in getting to know me.

The day I moved in, I remember waving ferociously at my neighbor walking down to his car. I walked toward him and he looked at me but kept walking! I wasn’t giving up though and told him “Hi, I’m your new neighbor, Mary Spencer!” He looked at me, said hello, and got into his car.

I lived there for two years but never learned his name. I did have to go knock on his door one night though to ask to borrow some sugar. At least he let me borrow that.

I had some other neighbors I tried to chase down to get to know and meet but had very few interactions with them. Everyone was so busy and didn’t care for any interaction. It always felt strange to me, especially having grown up being best friends with my neighbors.

Why does it feel awkward to interact with the strangers around you? I feel the strange tension of it too. It seems to stem from the overconnected world we live in on our phones. We have 1000 Facebook friends to keep up with, so why would we need to interact with anyone else?

We were never meant to be this connected. Our minds are tired because we compare ourselves to the girl on social media that we met once and never saw again. We get jealous over the marriages and babies and trips of people we barely knew in college. Our minds were not meant to carry the load of so many people that do not actually show up and take part in our every day lives.

Last night I was at dinner with a friend and he got up to go to the restroom. I immediately pulled out my phone and started scrolling. I caught myself and wondered why in the world I felt awkward sitting at the table sipping on my drink and not being on my phone? I put my phone down and experimented with what it would feel like to just sit there with no one there and nothing to do. And honestly it felt awkward and strange.

My heart and my head are desperate to get back what used to be – connected with the community around me and disconnected from the noise my phone creates in my head.

So how do we do this? It’s probably crossed your mind before that you’d like to spend less time on social media. So what do you do? You delete some apps for a short period of time and then slowly find yourself drifting back toward those apps just to redownload.

Here are some ways I’ve been working on this lately:

  1. I did get rid of social media for a month and it felt amazing. Now I’ve slowly integrated it back into my life but I don’t keep the apps on my phone. If I want to get on social media I can look on my computer. I don’t need it in my life to survive, so why do I spend more time on these apps compared to hanging with my friends or talking to my family or going to church?
  2. If I do post something to social media, before I post I think, “What’s my motivation behind posting this?” If I’m posting a trip or my dinner is it because I want everyone to know what I’m doing?
  3. I recently downloaded a resource from Hannah Brencher called “1000 Unplugged Hours” which you can find here. I’m going to try and have 1000 Unplugged Hours over the next year. I want to power down my phone, my TV, and have intentional time with friends, read books, get outside!
  4. In Jennie Allen’s book, she recommends mapping out the people in your community. So, I drew out a chart of friends/acquaintances I know from grad school, work, Auburn connections, church, etc that all live in Nashville. Then, I circled 5 names of people I wanted to either get know better or be better about spending quality time with. I want to be surrounded by a group that will call me out if I need to be and will encourage me in the hard seasons because I’ve given them permission to know so much about the inner workings of my life.
  5. Be plugged in with a Bible study and don’t quit them! I’m working on this right now but having people who you work together with to further understand the Gospel and further the Kingdom really really matters.

Who are 3-5 people in your city that are either your people or you want to be your people? Make time each week to be with a few of them and be the first one to make the jump to be vulnerable. It’s awkward, scary and uncomfortable. Tell them that they have permission to ask you hard questions. And you’re never too old to do this, don’t let your life pass you by not allowing yourself to be known.

What are some tips you have for deeper friendships and/or disconnecting from technology? Respond to the newsletter and let me know!

You can do this. Allow yourself to be known and not numb.

Cheering for you,

Mary Spencer

3 thoughts on “The Friend Crisis.

  1. So proud of you! I am very thankful you reconnected with MD after all those years apart. Tifton is an extraordinary place with fabulous people, as evidenced by you! Congrats SWEET GIRL.

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